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Gay marriage prompts campaign finance question to FEC

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Even with the Supreme Court set to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act in the near future, conflict between federal and state definitions of marriage is causing problems in relation to other laws, most recently in the campaign finance arena.

Individuals are limited to contributing $5,200 to a candidate, but married couples are a special case in that they can write a check from a joint bank account for $10,400, even if one spouse is the sole breadwinner.

Lawyers for Senate candidate Dan Winslow, Massachusetts Republican, have asked the Federal Election Commission to use a state’s definition of marriage, even though it’s a federal agency. In that event, Mr. Winslow could accept more campaign money from gays since Massachusetts has gay marriage.

“In some cases, the Commission has relied on state law to resolve issues related to terms that are undefined in [federal campaign finance law] even though there are potentially conflicting federal laws,” Craig Engle, a campaign-finance lawyer with Arent Fox Political Law Group, wrote to the FEC last week, sending a copy to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group.

The FEC must resolve the issue now because the Massachusetts special election will be held April 30, the letter says.

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